Use as herbal medicine
While it is still being studied, and the effects of the herb are not entirely known, the herb has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels when used for an extended period of time. Additionally, Gymnema reduces the taste of sugar when it is placed in the mouth, thus some use it to fight sugar cravings.
From extract of the leaves were isolated glycosides known as Gymnemic acids, which exhibit anti-sweet activity.
This effect, however, is short-lived, lasting a mere fifteen minutes. Some postulate that the herb actually reduces cravings for sugar by blocking sugar receptors in the tongue, but no scientific studies have supported this hypothesis. It is currently being used in an all natural medication for diabetes with other ingredients such as cinnamon, chromium, zinc, biotin, banaba, huckleberry and bitter melon.
The active ingredient is thought to be gurmenic acid which has structure similar to saccharose. Extracts of Gymnema is not only claimed to curb sweet tooths but also for treatment of as varied problems as hyperglycemia, overweightness, high cholesterol levels, anemia and digestion. According to the Sushruta of the Ayurveda it is helps to treat Madhumeha ie glycosuria.
The plants also goes under many other names such as; Gurmari, Gurmarbooti, Gurmar, periploca of the woods, meshasring and mesbasringi. The hindi word gur-mar literally means sugar destroyer. Mesbasringi means ram's horn because of the shape of its fruits. Gymnema probably derives from the Latin word meaning naked and sylvestre means from the forest.
- AD kinghorn and CM Compadre. Less common high-potency sweeteners. In Alernative Sweeteners: Second Edition, Revised and Expanded, L O'Brien Nabors,Ed., New York, 1991. ISBN 0-8247-8475-8